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Roam in the American History

By Emily James,2014-10-28 12:09
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Roam in the American History

    华中师范大学汉口分校期末课程论文成绩评定表 2009 2010学年第 学期

    外国语学院 08?本, 学生学号 2008932059

    英语影视 90700292 学生姓名 田柳 课程名称 课程编号 作品赏析

    论文题目 Rome in the American History Through Forrest Gump

    

    

    

    

    

    

    

    

    

    

评分 学习 结构 论证 学术 应用 项目 态度 规范 表述 水平 推广 100分, ?分, 15分, 15分, 20分, 40分, 10分,

     得分

    任课教师;签字??

    2010 7 1

    AbstractForrest Gump is a wonderful film not only at the box office,but in the aspect of culture presentation. It largely reflects American native culture,revealing the changing of postwar social values.The film includes these Historical Events: Ku Klux Klan,Desegregation,Civil Rights,Vietnam War,The assassination of J.F. Kennedy,The Ping pong Diplomacy,Watergate Scandal, Land on the moon,AIDS appeared in U.S.A, Body mechanics Swept U.S.A and so on. This paper centers on American historical reviewing and reexplaining through Forrest Gump,to comprehend the stratification culture,religious culture,mainstream culture and border culture of America,and it sums up the impact of these historical events into 4 kinds:1.The racial problem 2.The influence of Vietnam War 3.American politics in 30 years after World War II 4.Counterculture Movement.All these offer a systematic method of learning about American history and culture.

    Key WordsForrest Gump Impact American politics History Culture

    1Introduction

     Forrest Gump,who is born in Greenbow, Alabama in the early fifties, is unfortunately to bear with low intelligence and disabled feet.But beyond people's expectation,this unlucky man has achieved lots of incredible success, he is a football star, a war hero, and later a millionaire!The title character leads viewers through an accidental travelogue of U.S. social history from the early 1960s through the present in this revisionist fable. Vietnam, desegregation, Watergate, and more are presented from the perspective of Tom Hanks's loveably slow-witted Forrest Gump as he finds himself embroiled in situations he can't quite comprehend. Hanks leads an excellent cast, featuring Robin Wright Penn as Jenny, Forrest's lifelong love; Gary Sinise as the irascible;Lt. Dan, his Vietnam superior; Mykelti Williamson as Bubba, a shrimp- loving soldier; and Sally Fields,as his devoted mother. Robert Zemeckis's emotional, heartwarming film garnered 13 Academy Award nominations and six wins, including Best Picture, Director, Actor--Tom Hanks, and Adapted Screenplay.

    2The Impact of Historical Events in the film

     The film narrates the life experience of Forrest Gump from 1950s to the early 1980s,during which America had witnessed 30 years' surging waves after World War II.The film shows all the history in two ways,that is,to take advantage of Special Effects to intermingle the historical record with fictions in the story,tactfully showing public views on important historical and cultural events in different periods.A review of Forrest Gump wouldn't be complete without a mention of the astounding computer-generated visual effects, which enable Gump to interact (in actual newsreel footage) with JFK, Nixon, John Lennon, and many others, and also give us small pleasures that don't announce themselves as artificial: a ping-pong ball, the feather during the opening credits, the peace rally of thousands of people -- all computerized images, of course.

    2.1 The Racial Problem

    The Civil War which was rapidly developed After World War II had become the vital part in American history,and there were multiple scenes in the film referring to it.Some people interpreted the movie as adding to a discourse of race through the changing contours of white power and privilege during the civil rights era. From the standpoint that studies of whiteness work to dislodge whites from positions of power, Robyn Weigman(Whiteness Studies and the Paradox of

    Particularity) has argued that Forrest Gump is a "filmic celebration of fundamental white goodness.

    Around 1950, matured in American society a political movement that had as main objective to combat such discrimination. The protest, led by Martin Luther King , took initiation from the deep South, in Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott with which the blacks were only occupy the seats assigned to them, but not those given to whites. From that moment began bitter civil wars that went on for years until, in 1959, the U.S. Supreme Court gave a concrete sign of openness towards the black population, ordering the end of segregation between blacks and whites in schools. From 1963-64, the agitations of blacks also developed in the northern cities of the United States. The problem was the social and economic exclusion that forced black people to live in ghettos, poor areas of large cities.A feature of the new black movement was that the claim to full equality with the whites is not accompanied with more willingness to integrate, but rather with the desire to preserve their social and cultural diversity. Currently in U.S. pockets of racism against blacks still exists, especially in the south, while in the metropolis is expanding ghettos. On the other hand has made a significant band of black middle class, which produced politicians of a certain importance.

    2.2 The Vietnam War Defeat and Shame

     In this movie,the idea could be clear that it was improper to interpose The Vietnam Civil War and the war had made Americans suffered a lot .A governmental recruiting agent promoted the Vietnam War to Forrest,who was just graduated from college.There were some words on the cover of brochures--"Excellent career for excellent young men". Unfortunately, Forrest realized his wrong choice at his first step into the armed force,and he couldn't forget the words "you’re not

    even a lowlife, scum-sucking maggot",which humbled him sharply. However,it was late.

     In the 1950's the United States began to send troops to Vietnam. During the following 25-years the ensuing war would create some of the strongest tensions in US history. Almost 3 million US men and women were sent thousands of miles to fight for what was a questionable cause. In total, it is estimated that over 2,5 million people on both sides were killed.

     The large-scale involvement of the US came under the tenure of President Lyndon B. Johnson and his Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Johnson had replaced John F. Kennedy after he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas 1963. In the military attack,Forrest risks his own life to try to rescue Bubba and when a dying Bubba asks Forrest "why'd this happen", Forrest's unintentionally comic answer - "you got shot" - displaces the ideological issues around American involvement in Vietnam and the Black Panther critique. In his last words Bubba himself validates America's inclusiveness with his simply stated desire for "home". As Davies and Smith argue, Forrest's commitment to Bubba in Vietnam and his financial support of Bubba's family after the war, "not only particularises the war as individual tragedy rather than national failure or imperialist misadventure, but removes any need to show the post-Vietnam black struggle for civil rights."

    Significantly, although the film makes frequent use of diegetic radio and television broadcasts to contextualise Forrest's story, there is no mention of the end of the Vietnam War. Thus, as Forrest never returns to the front after injuring his "butt-ocks", his-story of Vietnam is ultimately one of personal triumph, symbolised by the Congressional Medal of Honor and his Ping-Pong victories.

    The never-mentioned American defeat in Vietnam is transformed into sporting triumph which

    not only achieves a reconciliation with "the Communists" but promotes "All America" as a unified male-team.

    2.3 American Politics in 30 years--the ever-changing climate

     The American Politics in 30 years after World War II is the focus which the film would like to set.In the film,doctors describe Forrest's back as "crooked as polititions",which is full of poignant sarcasm.And when the America astronomer Neil Armstrong succeed in landing on the moon,people show a blind eye to this sensational news.Forrest knows that his warwound worths million dollars,but finally he achieves nothing and he considers wether the troops keep for him. Naturally, people have seen that the motivation of the war is nothing but profits. In terms of Forrest,it is funny that Kennedy brothers have such same fate,and Watergate consumes Nixon's Presidency.

    What deserves a special mention is the Gulf of Tonkin Incident,which is the name given to two separate incidents involving the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. On August 2, 1964 the US destroyer USS Maddox while performing a DESOTO patrol, was engaged by three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats of the 135th Torpedo Squadron. A sea battle resulted, in which the Maddox expended over 280 3" and 5" shells, and which involved the strafing from four USN F8 Crusader jet fighter bombers. One US aircraft was damaged, one 14.5mm round hit the destroyer, 3 North Vietnamese torpedo boats were damaged, and 4 North Vietnamese sailors were killed and 6 were wounded; there were no U.S. Casualties.

    The second Tonkin Gulf incident, which occurred on August 4, 1964, was also a naval battle, but this time, may have involved the "Tonkin Ghosts", and no actual NVN Torpedo Boat attacks. The outcome of this second incident was the passage by Congress of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by "communist aggression". The resolution served as Johnson's legal justification for deploying US conventional forces and the commencement of open warfare against North Vietnam.

    In the film,the director sweeps aside the contribution of The Civil Rights Act which is signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson.And though Voting Rights Act makes Afro-Americans eligible to vote,the film mentions nothing about it.

    2.4 Counterculture Movement

     Gump is a safe guide through the tumult of the '60s, the absurdity of the '70s, and the greed of the '80s. Jenny, on the other hand, seems to experience everything terrible about those decades: drugs, soulless sex, more abuse, more drugs, and one final pitfall that isn't in the book. Letting her pristine features collapse into numbness, Wright fleshes out Jenny's self-disgust. This masochistic woman isn't ready for Gump, who, in his infinite kindness, wants only to love her. She embodies American disillusionment, and she will probably make a lot of feminists foam at the mouth. Gump flies through the decades with nary a scratch, but a vague, doomy cloud hangs over poor Jenny, who always makes the worst choices.

    The counterculture of the 1960s refers to a cultural movement that mainly developed in the United States and England and spread throughout much of the western world between 1956 and 1974. The movement gained momentum during the U.S. government's extensive military

    intervention in Vietnam.As the 1960s progressed, widespread tensions developed in American society that tended to flow along generational lines regarding the war in Vietnam, race relations, sexual mores, women's rights, traditional modes of authority, experimentation with psychedelics, such as LSD and psilocybin, as well as with milder ones, namely cannabis, and interpretations of the American Dream regarding consumerism. New cultural forms emerged, including the pop music of the British band The Beatles, which rapidly evolved to shape and reflect the youth subculture's emphasis on change and experimentation. Additional musical groups from the United Kingdom as well as a growing number of topical American singers and songwriters also impacted the counterculture movement.

    The legacy of the Counterculture is still actively contested in debates that are sometimes framed, in the U.S., in terms of a "culture war". Jay Walljasper, a commentator and the editor of Utne Reader though not himself from the so-called '60s Generation has written: "From the

    great gyrations of the counterculture would come a movement dedicated to the greening of America. While many once-ardent advocates of radical ideas now live in the suburbs and vote Republican, others have held fast to the dream of creating a new kind of American society and they've been joined by fresh streams of younger idealists.

    3Conclusion

    Forrest Gump's stated project of looking at the world differently is an historical re-vision which sanitises white men's violent role in US history whilst writing out or writing over alternative histories. For women, African-Americans, antimilitarists or disabled men and women, to look at the world through the eyes of Forrest Gump is to look at the world through a distorting mirror.

    A film like Forrest Gump is a barometer of society and history,simultaneously,it's the concentration of changing culture.To sum up,here is the figurative illustration for American historical events in this film,which a nation should memorize to lead a better future,no matter what the history was like in the past.

    Bibliography

    1Li Yanling --The power to promote a harmonious American society [J]. Movie Review 2008/12

    2Wen-Ting Wu --The Lonely Runner-The Cultural Elements Picked up in Forrest Gump[J].

    2009/05

    3K Boyle --Reconstructing a Violent History [J]. 2001/12 http://www.scope.nottingham.ac.uk

    4Bao-Ping Dai--U.S. National Security Council Document of 6023 Issued [J]. 2010/04

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